Sunday, April 7, 2024

My Holy War with the Catholic Church

 “The urge to destroy is also a creative urge.”

-Mikhail Bakunin

It begins with an unstoppable flood of unbearable images. A child stripped naked beaten in a preschool bathroom. A visiting priest with a sinful smile. Two nude men in a rectory bedroom. An unrecognizable reflection in that same bathroom mirror... Quickly, this nightmarish montage forms a narrative like a terrible bedtime story you've heard a thousand times before for the first time. A story about a little girl trapped inside a scary body whose dysphoria was exploited by sexual predators at a Catholic school so they could have a good time with someone, some thing, too frightened to ever tell. 

This narrative was too much for that little girl to bear, so she blacked it out, she blacked out everything she saw in that mirror, including her gender identity, for decades. Until years of nightmares became an unstoppable flood of unbearable images, and those images formed a narrative of repressed memories that now feed an insatiable thirst for revenge.

This has become my life over the last several months. This waking nightmare has become the new normal. The trauma surrounds me, like living in an active warzone. Everything triggers flashbacks and the flashbacks have become so menacingly jarring that they have begun to trigger seizures. I feel like Linda Blair in The Exorcist, vomiting up secrets and bodily fluids that belong to men sent to save my soul. My life has become a horror movie that no one can bear to watch. 

I have been abandoned by all but my most devoted friends. I have formed multiple personalities that represent the children that the Catholic Church conspired to destroy. One of them is also a five-year-old girl who was passed around by priests until she became physically ill. I spend my nights consoling that child while she screams. Some nights she consoles me. My own therapist now refuses to see me, telling me over the phone like some cheap fling that I require a level of care that she cannot provide.

This has become my life and the only thing that has kept me from taking it is war. That word pounds in my head like a drumbeat. War. War. Over and over again. War. War. War. The moment that I stop shaking and sobbing. War. War. War. That five-year-old girl and her fourteen-year-old protector join the chant like a chorus. War. War. War. This is what keeps me going, the fact that there are still children coming and going from the churches and schools that those vile men combed like a brothel, the fact that those buildings are still standing after thirty years of them tearing me down and burning the pieces.

I want to kill. I want to shoot, stab, hack, and bludgeon. But that isn't enough. Any one act of violence, no matter how justified, would be little more than a senseless indulgence considering the depth of the conspiracy that inspires my rage. Burn one church and there are still thousands more standing. Kill one priest and there are still millions left walking, groping, hunting, lying, escaping.

Revenge is not enough because I am not alone. I am one of legions of broken children who have been mercilessly degraded and discarded by the Catholic Church. The only thing more horrifying than stories like mine are how many of them there are. In the United States alone, more than 11,000 complaints of abuse have been lodged against more than 6,000 Catholic clergy members by the children who survived their sexual degradation. Diocese across the country have paid out hundreds of millions of dollars in out of court settlements just to keep them silent and my home state of Pennsylvania has hosted some of the vilest transgressions of this colossal conspiracy. 

The entire Keystone State was turned into a veritable harem. For decades, over 300 predator priests were given free reign over nearly every diocese in the state while the Church leadership compiled detailed records of their crimes and moved these monsters around like game pieces on a map of hell. Cases were reported to bishops and bishops reported them to the Vatican, but the only actions taken by Rome were in defense of the accused and the silence that kept them active. And Pennsylvania is far from the only hunting ground either.

216,000 children in France between 1950 and 2020. 3,677 minors in Germany between 1946 and 2014. Nearly 15,000 underage victims in Ireland between 1970 and 1990. And this doesn't even include the generations of children subjected to the horrors and humiliations of institutionalized corporal punishment, or the emotional abuse of homophobia and transphobia, or the slut shaming of children for even having a sexuality outside of a holy man's fist... or the Magdelene Laundries, or the mother and baby homes, or the dungeon-like orphanages and the illegal adoptions... The Catholic Church is not a religious organization, it is an international misery industrial complex that runs on shattered childhoods, and the responsibility for this monstrosity runs straight to the top of the Vatican. 

At least three consecutive popes have been complicit. In 2001, Pope John Paul II, a man now considered a saint by the Catholic Church, issued a global papal rescript compelling all of the Church's bishops to forward cases of abuse to Rome so that the Vatican could decide the appropriate course of action rather than the public. That same year, a high-ranking Vatican prefect who would go on to become Pope Bennedict in 2005 issued a document mandating that all cases of clerical sex abuse be reported directly to his office where they were to be kept under lock and key. Those files soon numbered in the thousands and were further secured under the Vatican's Crimen Sollicitationis, which required total silence from victims, perpetrators, and witnesses alike under the threat of excommunication.

Pope Francis was supposed to be different, swept into power in 2013 after Bennedict made the unprecedented decision to resign under a cloud of scandals going back to his days as the Archbishop of Munich in the 1980s, Jorge Mario Bergoglio was carefully marketed to the fleeing faithful as a caring reformer. He has reformed nothing. While touring the globe making heartfelt apologies to the victims of his church, the man they now call Francis has also carefully avoided making any formal admission of responsibility on the part of the Vatican so as to avoid ever having to pay a dime in reparations. 

Francis can also be judged by the company he keeps. The man he appointed as his anti-corruption czar and continues to praise in death, Cardinal George Pell, was a convicted pedophile only released from prison because Australia's High Court chose not to believe his victims on acquittal.

Pope Francis is not a reformer; he is a cleaner sent by an evil institution to mop up the scene of the crime and reign in a dwindling flock who is fleeing the church in droves. Pope Francis is proof that what the Vatican requires is not reform but revolution. This is a recognized nation state responsible for centuries of grisly crimes against humanity. An ancient imperial relic that has conspired with dictators, Nazis, mafioso, and death squads, and continues to horde billions of dollars in its bank, including gold picked from the teeth of the gassed Jews at Auschwitz. This monstrosity must be razed to the ground and fed to the woodchippers. But even this fate is not enough.

The only way to possibly call any revolution an act of justice is if this jihad ensures that the crimes that inspired it will never happen again. This is bigger than any one church. This is about a society that grooms its children to be prey by denying them any rights as individuals. There will always be adults that rape children as long as institutions of power afford them that right and childhood itself as we understand it has become one of those institutions. 

We must liberate our children by empowering them with the same rights we afford adults and teach them that their bodies belong to them and no one else, not the state, not the church, not even their parents. We must emancipate childhood and raise proud individuals instead of silent dutiful citizens.

If this is impossible then I will die fighting endlessly for the impossible. I will fight forever because it is the only thing that keeps me from destroying myself beneath the weight of the horror that has become my existence. I must become Che Guevara because it is the only fate keeping me from becoming Charles Whitman. I will not die a statistic. I will rage furiously unto my dying breath until the whole world can hear that five-year-old girl scream. Maybe then she can sleep and so can I.

Peace, Love, & Empathy- Nicky/CH, Max, & Agnes

Soundtrack: Songs that influenced this post

* My War by Black Flag

* Me and a Gun by Tori Amos

* Cop Car by Mitski

* Jesu Dod by Burzum

* Retard Girl by Hole

* Kerosene by Big Black

* Oblivion by Grimes

* Transylvanian Hunger by Darkthrone

* Comeback Kid by Sleigh Bells

* Something I Can Never Have by Nine Inch Nails

This post is devoted in loving memory to John Sinclair, a tireless revolutionary who put his life and freedom on the line so young people could have a voice loud enough to tell their parents "Fuck you!" with their fists held high.  

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